Püschel, A.W., Westerfield, M., and Dressler, G.R. (1992) Comparative analysis of Pax-2 protein distributions during neurulation in mice and zebrafish. Mechanisms of Development. 38:197-208.
Members of different vertebrate species share a number of developmental mechanisms and control genes, suggesting that they have similar genetic programs of development. We compared the expression patterns of the Pax-2 protein in Mus musculus and Brachydanio rerio to gain a better understanding of the evolution of developmental control genes. We found that the tissue specificity and the time course of Pax-2 expression relative to specific developmental processes are remarkably similar during the early development of the two organisms. The brain, the optic stalk, the auditory vesicle, the pronephros, and single cells in the spinal cord and the hindbrain express Pax-2 in both species. The Pax-2 expression domain in the prospective brain of E8 mouse embryos has not been described previously. Expression appears first during early neurulation at the junction between the midbrain and hindbrain. However, there are some differences in Pax-2 expression between the two species. Most notable, expression at the midbrain/hindbrain boundary is no longer detectable after E11 in the mouse. Using monoclonal antibodies, we could exclude that primary neurons express Pax-2 in the zebrafish spinal cord. Our results confirm that Pax genes are highly conserved both in sequences and in expression patterns, indicating that they may have a function during early development that has been conserved during vertebrate evolution.